Whether you like them or not, gift cards remain an incredibly popular gift idea, which is why the new Target Mobile Gift Card program is incredibly cool. The new feature allows you to convert any Target gift card into a digital barcode that can be used from any Internet connected cell phone -- no extra fees involved.
Turning your plastic gift card into a digital barcode is a snap, just visit Target.com from a mobile browser, register for an account with your phone number and a PIN, then key in the information from your plastic gift card and you're done.
Now, instead of adding yet another gift card to your wallet, you'll have those cards in your cell phone. (just don't forget your phone.)
Having your gift cards in your phone is cool for more than one reason. For example, when you add a gift card, you can label it so that you know who you received it from. You can also pull up multiple gift cards at the store with no fumbling. But, perhaps the best part about the way Target chose to use mobile gift cards is that there's no app to download, no iPhone required, all you need is an Internet connection.
Given the estimated $30 billion "unredeemed gift card economy" having your gift card with you instead of taking up space in your sock drawer is a huge convenience.
It's a problem I run into constantly, especially the first few months after Christmas when I have more gift cards than usual. Forgetting this bounty at home has led to delayed purchases or money wasted on buying something without my gift card. I wish more retailers -- I'm looking at you Best Buy -- would add the ability to put a gift card on my phone so I can use them anytime I go shopping.
I've already added most of my rewards cards to my Droid with the handy Key Ring Reward Cards app so that my key ring no longer looks like the world's smallest billboard, but some cashiers refuse to accept it and at other stores the barcodes won't scan.
The fact that Target has the mobile gift card program in place at all of its retail stores, which it claims is a first among major retailers, is promising and makes me have hope that other retailers will make using mobile gift card programs, rewards programs and coupons on mobile phones as common a task as swiping your credit card.
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